Mental toughness in elite football officiating

SLACK, Liam A. (2013). Mental toughness in elite football officiating. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The overall purpose of this Ph.D. thesis was to identify factors underpinning football officiating excellence. As a result, this thesis provided an in-depth study into understanding Mental Toughness (MT) and its development within elite football referees. A secondary purpose was to use the findings of the series of studies contained herein, to bridge the gap between theory and applied practice by providing recommendations for football officiating National Governing Bodies (NGBs), sport psychology consultants, and developing a programme aimed at facilitating officiating excellence and enhancing effective referee development. The aim of the first study of the thesis was to provide an in-depth understanding of football officiating excellence in the context of English Premier League (EPL) refereeing. Specifically, in this study, 15 “Select Group” referees (i.e., a panel of elite football officials governed to referee EPL matches) were interviewed about their perceptions of factors underpinning officiating excellence. Overall, the findings of study one indicated that there was no single dominant factor underpinning football officiating excellence, rather a variety of social (e.g., support networks), physical (e.g., superior physical components), environmental (e.g., opportunities to thrive), and psychological factors (e.g., personal characteristics). In particular, it was clear that EPL referees rely on seven MT attributes (i.e., sport intelligence, achievement striving, tough attitude, high work-ethic, coping with pressure, robust self-belief, and resilience) to deal with the many demands in this elite football environment. Subsequently, this finding enabled a further study to examine MT in this area. Again, using one-to-one interviews, study two explored the same 15 Select Group referees to attain a comprehensive understanding of MT in elite football officiating. Central to this investigation, study two examined situations perceived to require MT in EPL refereeing, as well as the behaviours and cognitions deployed by referees in such situations. Findings revealed that these MT situations converged into five higher-order themes: pre-match situations, during-match situations, post-match situations, general elite refereeing situations, and general-life situations. Throughout these situations, a multifunctional set of adaptive patterns of behaviour (e.g., act as a barrier between players) and cognitive strategies (e.g., awareness of players' emotions) were outlined. Recommendations for the development of MT in football officiating were offered, which together with findings from study one, highlighted the need for the design and implementation of a MT intervention. The purpose of study three was to evaluate the effectiveness of a Mental Toughness Education and Training Programme (MTETP) in English football officiating. Taken together with the pilot study, the findings outlined the effectiveness of a MTETP on MT development and performance, provided a good starting point for future research in an effort to develop more robust MT interventions, and assisted sport psychology consultants who endeavour to enhance MT in football officials. From a theoretical perspective, the findings of this thesis provided a detailed insight into the specific factors underpinning football officiating excellence. In doing so, a comprehensive conceptualisation of MT and its development in the context EPL refereeing was achieved. From an applied perspective, future guidelines for NGBs, coaches, and sport psychology consultancy for the effective integration of MT education and training in elite football officiating were presented.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Maynard, Ian [0000-0003-2010-5072]
Thesis advisor - Butt, Joanne [0000-0002-0477-894X]
Thesis advisor - Olusoga, Peter [0000-0001-8431-3853]
Additional Information: Director of Studies : Prof. Ian Maynard. Supervision team : Dr. Joanne Butt and Dr. Peter Olusoga.
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Jill Hazard
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2017 15:53
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:04

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